Managing for Creativity in Japan Talking with Foreign Executives in Japan

The Weirdo

“The creative person is the weirdo. The creative person is the one that talks a bit funny (not necessarily). He is the one that you’ve just got to give space. Let him do whatever he does. You can’t have him as one of the battery hens, how can you have creativity in that scenario? It’s impossible.

The whole ecology of the way offices in Japan are set up doesn’t support it. Creativity is rule breaking, it’s doing something that hasn’t been done before, so naturally a creative person is going to upset people. They are mavericks. They are people that will dare to say ‘we need to change this process’. I spoke to a Japanese girl a few weeks ago. She works in a call center and they have to do all these tallies using pencil and paper. She said to her supervisor “I could do this with Excel or something” and the supervisor who was in his late forties just came down on her for coming up with an idea. The whole ecology…it just doesn’t support questioning the system.”